United States of America
242 views this week
Josephine Hull

Josephine Hull Actress

The basics
Quick Facts
Intro Actress
A.K.A. Mary Josephine Sherwood, Josephine Sherwood Hull
Countries United States of America
Occupations Actor Film actor Stage actor Television actor
Type Film, Television, Stage, and Radio
Gender female
Birth 3 January 1877 (Newtonville)
Death 12 March 1957 (New York City)
Spouse: Shelly Hull
Education Radcliffe College, Harvard University, New England Conservatory of Music
The details

Marie Josephine Hull (née Sherwood; January 3, 1877 – March 12, 1957) was an American stage and film actress who also was a director of plays. She had a successful 50-year career on stage while taking some of her better known roles to film. She won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for the movie Harvey (1950), a role she originally played on the Broadway stage.


Hull was born January 3, 1877, in Newtonville, Massachusetts, one of four children born to William H. Sherwood and Mary Elizabeth ("Minnie") Tewkesbury, but would later shave years off her true age. She attended the New England Conservatory of Music and Radcliffe College, both in the Boston area.



Hull made her stage debut in stock in 1905, and after some years as a chorus girl and touring stock player, she married actor Shelley Hull (the elder brother of actor Henry Hull) in 1910. After her husband's death as a young man, the actress retired until 1923, when she returned to acting using her married name, Josephine Hull. The couple had no children.

She had her first major stage success in George Kelly's Pulitzer-winning Craig's Wife in 1926. Kelly wrote a role especially for her in his next play, Daisy Mayme, which also was staged in 1926. She continued working in New York theater throughout the 1920s. In the 1930s and 1940s, Hull appeared in three Broadway hits, as a batty matriarch in You Can't Take It with You (1936), as a homicidal old lady in Arsenic and Old Lace (1941), and in Harvey (1944). The plays all had long runs, and took up ten years of Hull's career. Her last Broadway play, The Solid Gold Cadillac (1954–55), was later made into a film with the much younger Judy Holliday.


Hull made only six films, beginning in 1927 with a small part in the Clara Bow feature Get Your Man, followed by The Bishop's Candlesticks in 1929. That was followed by two 1932 Fox features, After Tomorrow (recreating her stage role) and The Careless Lady.

She missed out on recreating her You Can't Take It With You role in 1938, as she was still onstage with the show. Instead, Spring Byington appeared in the film version. Hull and Jean Adair played the Brewster sisters in the 1944 film version of Arsenic and Old Lace (starring Cary Grant and Priscilla Lane), and Hull appeared in the screen version of Harvey, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Variety credited Hull's performance: "the slightly balmy aunt who wants to have Elwood committed, is immense, socking the comedy for every bit of its worth."

After, Hull made only one more film, The Lady from Texas (1951); she had also appeared in the CBS-TV version of Arsenic and Old Lace in 1949, with Ruth McDevitt, an actress who often succeeded Hull in her Broadway roles, as her sister.


Josephine Hull died on March 12, 1957, aged 80, from a cerebral hemorrhage.

Broadway appearances

  • The Bridge [Sep 4, 1909 – Oct 1909, billed as Josephine Sherwood)
  • The Law and the Man (Dec 20, 1906 – Feb 1907, billed as Josephine Sherwood) Role: Cosette (Replacement)
  • Neighbors (Dec 26, 1923 – Jan 1924) Role: Mrs. Hicks
  • Fata Morgana (Mar 3, 1924 – Sep 1924) Role: George's Mother
  • Rosmersholm (May 5, 1925 – May 1925) Role: Madame Helseth
  • Craig's Wife (Oct 12, 1925 – Aug 1926) Role: Mrs. Frazier
  • Daisy Mayme (Oct 25, 1926 – Jan 1927) Role: Mrs. Olly Kipax
  • The Wild Man of Borneo (Sep 13, 1927 – Sep 1927) Role: Mrs. Marshall
  • March Hares (Apr 2, 1928 – Apr 1928) Role: Mrs. Janet Rodney
  • The Beaux Stratagem (Jun 4, 1928 – Jun 1928) Role: Servant in the Inn
  • Hotbed (Nov 8, 1928 – Nov 1928) Role: Hattie
  • Before You're 25 (Apr 16, 1929 – May 1929) Role: Cornelia Corbin
  • Those We Love (Feb 19, 1930 – Apr 1930) Role: Evelyn
  • Midnight (Dec 29, 1930 – Feb 1931) Role: Mrs. Weldon
  • Unexpected Husband (Jun 2, 1931 – Sep 1931) Role: Mrs. Egbert Busty
  • After Tomorrow (Aug 26, 1931 – Nov 1931) Role: Mrs. Piper
  • A Thousand Summers (May 24, 1932 – Jul 1932) Role: Mrs. Thompson
  • American Dream (Feb 21, 1933 – Mar 1933) Role: Martha, Mrs. Schuyler Hamilton
  • A Divine Drudge Oct 26, 1933 – Nov 1933) Role: Frau Klapstuhl
  • By Your Leave (Jan 24, 1934 – Feb 1934) Role: Mrs. Gretchell
  • On to Fortune (Feb 4, 1935 – Feb 1935) Role: Miss Hedda Sloan
  • Seven Keys to Baldpate (May 27, 1935 – Jun 1935) Role: Mrs. Quinby
  • Night In the House (Nov 7, 1935 – Nov 1935) Role: Lucy Amorest
  • You Can't Take It with You (Dec 14, 1936 – Dec 3, 1938) Role: Penelope Sycamore
  • An International Incident (Apr 2, 1940 – Apr 13, 1940) Role: Mrs. John Wurthering Blackett
  • Arsenic and Old Lace (Jan 10, 1941 – Jun 17, 1944) Role: Abby Brewster
  • Harvey (Nov 1, 1944 – Jan 15, 1949) Role: Veta Louise Simmons
  • Minnie and Mr. Williams (Oct 27, 1948 – Oct 30, 1948) Role: Minnie
  • The Golden State (Nov 25, 1950 – Dec 16, 1950) Role: Mrs. Morenas
  • Whistler's Grandmother (Dec 11, 1952 – Jan 3, 1953) Role: Kate
  • The Solid Gold Cadillac (Nov 5, 1953 – Feb 12, 1955) Role: Mrs. Laura Partridge

Broadway director credits

  • Why Not? (Dec 25, 1922 – Apr 1923, billed as Mrs. Shelley Hull)
  • The Rivals (May 7, 1923 – May 1923, billed as Mrs. Shelley Hull)
  • The Habitual Husband (Dec 24, 1924 – Jan 1925)


Year Film Role Awards
1929 The Bishop's Candlesticks
1932 Careless Lady Aunt Cora
After Tomorrow Mrs. Piper
1944 Arsenic and Old Lace Aunt Abby Brewster
1950 Harvey Veta Louise Simmons Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture
1951 The Lady from Texas Miss Birdie Wheeler

Radio appearances

Year Program Episode/source
1952 Theatre Guild on the Air The Meanest Man in the World

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
comments so far.
arrow-left arrow-right arrow-up arrow-down instagram whatsapp myspace quora soundcloud spotify tumblr vk website youtube stumbleupon comments comments pandora gplay iheart tunein pandora gplay iheart tunein itunes